Earlier this year, as they began rolling out music from Love In Time, their seventh full-length album, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (GPGDS) kicked things off by showcasing two diverse singles. The album features a fresh collaborative approach that embraces the “squad” in their name. First came “Chants” featuring legendary vocalist Clinton Fearon (of Gladiators fame) and Ghanaian musician Dela Botri, which has a distinctive and infectious sound brought to life by Fearon’s powerful vocals and Botri’s antenteben mastery. The second single, “Revolution,” co-produced with Alborosie and featuring Josh Swain of The Movement on vocals, also exemplified this new creative approach. Both singles were accompanied by enthralling music videos that added another dimension to the listening experience.
Love In Time is unique in GPGDS’s catalog due to the contrast in their songwriting process. The band previously followed a traditional recording method of one song at a time with a focused pace. Initially, the recording sessions followed a similar trajectory until the pandemic disrupted their plans. Facing the possibility of a six-month separation, the band hurried to the studio to capture as many basic tracks as they could. Working with their longtime friend Matthew Goodwin (The Movement, Easy Star All-Stars), they were able to produce more than 25 song ideas and riddims within a week. The band then reached out to outside producers and collaborators to complete the album. The timing worked out as everyone was looking to make a connection, even remotely.
The various tracks were sent to three different camps of musicians, engineers and producers: the production trio Zion I Kings, who have produced and mixed tracks for Protoje, Akae Beka, Midnite, Lutan Fyah, and more; Italian-born international reggae icon Alborosie, who is best known for his own long string of hits and albums since the early 2000s; and Danny Kalb, a longtime partner of GPGDS who produced their biggest hit, “Steady,” but is also known for his productions of The Movement, The Green, Ben Harper, and many others.
Originally the idea was to build towards three different releases, but the diversity of the songs and production styles all complemented each other in ways the band had not expected. (In fact, it was working with Danny Kalb on the “Steady” single in 2014 that helped lead to this record; it was one of the first times they had worked with an outside collaborator, and the process and result were so powerful for the band that they strived for similar vibes this time around.) Add in a list of featured guest artists, including Fearon, Botri, and The Movement, plus Anthony B, Double Tiger, Blakkamoore, and Skribe Da God, and it became obvious that selecting the best tracks from all of these sessions would make for a versatile full-length record. The result is Love In Time.
Formed in 2001 in Rochester, NY, Giant Panda first received praise for their live shows, which combined world beats and reggae rhythms with an urgent energy and jamband dynamics. It’s no surprise that Live For Live Music called the band, “…one of the most innovative and genre-pushing reggae bands out there.” The band consists of Dylan Savage (guitar, vocals), James Searl (bass, vocals), Chris O’Brian (drums, vocals), Eli Flynn (guitar, vocals), and Tony Gallicchio (keyboards). Beyond their celebrated live energy, Panda has also released six studio albums, ranging from their alternative Americana releases Country (2012) and Bright Days (2015) to their Billboard Reggae Chart-toppers Steady (2014) and Make It Better (2016). Giant Panda has built an extensive and eclectic catalog that stands the test of time.
Love In Time is a perfect addition to their body of work that delivers a fresh new evolution of the band’s trademark sound.